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Forced academisation plan withdrawn by DfE

Nicky Morgan says government wants all schools to convert to academy status but will not enforce it

Posted by Stephanie Broad | May 06, 2016 | People, policy, politics

The government is to abandon plans to turn every school into an academy.

In a press release, Education Secretary Nicky Morgan said that the government is still committed to every school becoming an academy, but “it is not necessary to bring legislation to bring about blanket conversion of all schools to achieve this goal”. 

Since launching the Educational Excellence Everywhere whitepaper in March, in which the academisation plans were confirmed, feedback from school leaders, parents, teachers and MPs showed strong opposition to the plans. 

While academy status can be beneficial for schools that want it, there was an apparent lack of evidence that the status brought about improvement across the board. Morgan said she had listened to the feedback and scaled back compulsory conversion to only affect those deemed to be underperforming.

In the latest monthly figures, 227 schools put in applications to convert, the highest monthly figure since the programme began, showing an increased appetite for the autonomy that voluntary conversion brings. 

Russell Hobby, general secretary of school leaders’ union NAHT, says: “Today the government has announced that it will not take up powers to compel all good and outstanding schools to become academies. 

“This echoes the concerns NAHT raised at conference and we are pleased the government has listened to the profession. We stand ready to engage in further discussions about how the government can meet its vision in co-operation with the education sector. This move gives us hope that such dialogue can now be constructive. 

“In a further significant announcement, the government has made clear that small rural schools are not under threat from its policies on school structure. This will reassure the dedicated teachers and leaders in such schools, who are often at the heart of rural communities. We remain concerned, however, at the funding situation and await clarity on the revised funding formula. 

“We recognise that the government remains strongly in favour of academies and we ourselves have nothing against voluntary conversion to academy status. We can have a much better conversation about academies in this new climate. We welcome this constructive approach.”

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